Travelling pt.4

I’m starting to end the stretch of my travelling. As I am going around, I am realizing that when you know the story of something before you go to see it, what you see is a lot more interesting. There are quite a lot of places I wish I could have gone to, but were either inaccessible or I just couldn’t find them (!) such as the Cockney cash machine, which was a real shame. Nevertheless, so far it has been a really memorable experience to find parts of London people wouldn’t know have existed.

The Roman Amphitheatre at the Guildhall Galleries I must admit appeared a little creepy. Being the only one in there and walking down to what first appears to be a room of darkness looks suspicious and eerie. Inside however is not quite like any usual remains of Roman architecture. The layout and the additional lighting of people made it much more interesting to look at. Definitely not the usual Roman Villas trip I’m used to.

In 200AD London was defined by one massive city wall. The castle is accessible through a tunnel, giving you a 360-degree view of London. Although there is not a huge amount to see, I thought it was interesting to see how small the perimeter of London used to be, and how different everything about London today is from back in 200AD. What I appreciate about these ruins is that they are preserved and looked after, because they are an important part of history for us, despite the ever-growing need in the city for fancy buildings!

Kingsway Tram Subway is a connection that went from Holborn to Waterloo from 1906-52. It was only around for a short period of time, but it’s finding both ends that’s the exciting part. People walk under Waterloo Bridge without glancing at a huge set of double doors that is cleverly decorated. All the time up until now, I thought that was actually an entrance to a restaurant (or something) oops…)). Also, if you are willing enough to follow the entire path on the road, you can see through the drains steps leading to the tunnel that were used as a fire exit when the tram was open.

Another interesting discovery when looking through drains is Little Compton Street. This was one of my most exciting findings when I was researching what was around London! This was because it is so hidden you would not expect it to be hidden where it is at all. The street was built over to make the grounds more level when building Charing Cross Road 1896. The reason for leaving the signs and a small section of the street still remains a mystery.

Britain’s smallest Police Station just about fits a person. Originally, it was used as an ornamental light fitting 1826, until Scotland Yard took it over in 1926. Today it is used for storing cleaning supplies for the streets. Its really fun to find all the weird and wonderland parts of London, especially when you know you must have walked past it 100+ times, it shows that there’s a lot more to London than landmarks. I am hoping with my activity book, it will encourage people to look more into the details of London, than the overall picture.

41 Cloth Fair is the oldest standing house in London. Built around 1597-1614, it is known to be the only house to have survived the Great Fire of London 1666. How did it survive? It was enclosed and centered between the houses that were on fire. Presumably it had a garden circling around it. When you look closely at the house, you can pick out tiny elements beneath the patchwork of the original design of the house.

St Martin-In-The-Fields Church had a window installed by Rev Nicholas 1994. The funny window at first sparked questioning about the different design, but Rev explained it was to rework ‘Christianism’ and Modernism and put them together using the cross and grid pattern. Being a designer, I love things that are different (evidently with this project), and this shows the perfect example of showing something new but appropriate, yet it is hard to miss!

The Thin House is another one of my favourites. As narrow as 7ft wide, this triangular shape gives the optical illusion that the house is this thin throughout. The reason for this adjacent shape is because of the railway line. When constructing the house, it was underestimated on the space, and because they couldn’t build over the railway, nor could they stop, they created the ‘Thin House’.

York Watergate was originally the site of the original course of the Thames before the construction of embankment in the mid 19th Century; the river was moved to where it is today. The York House was built 1620 for George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham. The Watergate was a way to the house via the river, built in 1626 by Inigo Jones; the iconic structure is the only remains of the house. The corrosion of the architecture is evident, but it surprised me how I had missed this all the time I had been walking past it previously. Its shocking how detailed the Watergate is, the size of it puts into comparison of how vast the mansion must have been to match this beautiful construction.

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